When I moved to New York I was excited to make a fresh start – I could become anything I wanted. There were millions of possibilities. And yet, somehow “pumpkin crazy” made it into my new identity. I mean, I always appreciated the gradual slide into fall with turkey-centric meals, flaming red trees, steaming mugs of tea while wearing big cozy sweaters. But my first pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks became a gateway drug to a world of all things pumpkin.
There’s a huge movement against the pumpkin flavour, with killjoys pointing out that most pumpkin spice products have “no real pumpkin content”. Can we call them pumpkin hipsters? They probably can’t sleep at night knowing people are buying pumpkin doughnuts or pumpkin ice cream with artificial flavouring. Shaking their heads while harvesting and roasting the organic pumpkin they grew on their tiny fire escape gardens. You know what? I don’t care. What matters is that I love pumpkin pie and translating that flavour into multiple delicious ways of getting into my mouth is just fine with me.
So to erase any lingering doubt about my pumpkin enthusiasm I decided to throw a pumpkin party – everyone had to bring something pumpkin. We ended up with pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin beer. We even had an addictive pumpkin monkey bread with icing. Everyone wore orange and “Thriller” was playing all night. My contribution was pumpkin spice latte cupcakes, an ode to the drink that started it all. The cupcakes turned out perfectly – very moist, distinct pumpkin spice flavour with soft fluffy whipped topping. Everyone loved them (one friend exclaimed “It’s like eating clouds of DELICIOUS!”). Lesson learned: going all out with your ridiculous obsessions can be a whole lot of fun.
Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes (adapted from Annie’s Eats)
Yield: about 2 dozen cupcakes
The original recipe asked for 1 cup of oil but I think you could reduce it to 3/4 cup, maybe even 2/3 cup since you’re adding pumpkin puree. I think this recipe would be even more fantastic with a cup of dark chocolate chips. Lots of room to play around!
For the cupcakes
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. espresso powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. salt
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
4 large eggs
½ cup coffee or espresso, for brushing
For the frosting:
2¼ cups heavy cream, chilled
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
For the cupcakes
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Stir together and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together the pumpkin, granulated sugar, brown sugar and oil. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixture on low speed, add the flour mixture in two additions, mixing just until incorporated.
- Fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full. Bake until the cupcakes are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pans. While the cupcakes are still warm, brush them two or three times with the coffee or espresso, allowing the first coat to soak in before repeating. Let cool completely.
For the frosting
- Place the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium-low speed at first, gradually increasing to high speed. Blend in the confectioners’ sugar gradually. Whip until stiff peaks form, being careful not to over-beat. Use a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip to frost the cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and drizzle with caramel sauce. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate.